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  • Writer's pictureTerri Walters

Emotional Connection

I talk a lot about emotion as it relates to events.

This is what you want to conjure up in your audience. An emotion. A need. A desire. People think all day, but when you actually get them to feel, well, then you’ve done something. To do that, you must tap into the senses, and the gut. There has to be a connection made between, you, the person on the stage, and each individual person in the audience. And that’s really how it happens: One person to one person.

But how do you do that?

Be Genuine. Genuineness is difficult to define. It can be high risk, because it means vulnerability, and openness. It means risk because you are putting your ideas, your passion and your self out there. There could be judgment, and haters. Conversely, there could be support, and embrace. In the end, though, genuineness means truth, to yourself, and that translates to others.

Preparation is severely underestimated. I have seen more unprepared people than prepared people in the events business, especially on stage. Giving a presentation, or a keynote is more than retrofitting your Power Point on the plane, and reading your extremely busy (translation, mostly unreadable) slides to your audience.

Most people who are asked to present are asked because they are content experts, but that does not make them expert presenters or persuaders. The best information in the world is useless, if no one cares, or remembers it, or acts upon it.

The key to preparation is to think about the one thing your audience wants to know from you. Why are you there, and why should they care? People are busy, and distracted. They are not going to walk away, and execute on the 10 or 15 points that you deliver in your 20-minute speech. You can send them the slides later. But, what is it that one idea you want them to know, care about or execute upon, and how do you get them to embrace it?

Ask yourself, why does this audience care about what I am saying? What do they want? What do they need, and how will I make my message memorable?

This leads to the physical manifestation of your presentation. How do you make your message memorable? Creativity does not exist in a vacuum, so you can and should seek out support from others. That’s not a weakness; that makes you better.

There are plenty of, possibly unlikely, folks in your ecosystem who can help with execution. Talk to your partner, spouse, parents or kids. They may not be subject-matter experts, but that might be a good thing, as it can deliver a fresh perspective, and new insights. They might have a metaphor you haven’t thought about, or relevant story about you, or what you’re talking about. This can help you connect and be relatable, and memorable to your audience.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your peers. Seek out help on different themes, ideas, props or devices to help you explain, persuade, and connect. Also, speak with the people producing the event, and see what type of support they can and will provide. What type of microphone will you have? Ask about lighting and music, and introductions. Can you roll a video? Will there be a camera that will put your image on the screens? What type of stage will you have, and can you interact with the audience? Incorporating the existing technology, and working the audience and the stage can add to your presentation, and help make your message memorable, and help you connect on a deeper level.

Lastly, practice, practice, practice (and then practice more). This means you have to have your act together earlier than the day before, or the week before. You need to have your presentation plan, and know the content, and how you’re going to deliver it. You need to feel it and believe it, and be able to effectively convey it, or your audience will feel that.

The onus is on you to deliver to them. They did the hard part. They are right in front of you, ready to receive. Now, you just need to be genuine, be prepared, and deliver.

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